Friendships are not only nice, but essential.

23 Nov 2023

Friendship is something we all cherish.  Some of our most tender and unforgettable memories are associated with our friends from childhood. Apparently it is natural that most of us had a lot of friends at that age.

Perhaps all this is due to the fact that in childhood we were open-hearted, and this, like nothing else, helps to establish friendly relations.

Let’s remember, which part of school you looked forward to the most as a child. Chances are, you were most eager to see your friends so you could hang out during lunch and, if you were lucky, outside of school too.

If you lived in the same area for long enough, you would likely have gone to school together, navigating the ups and downs of both school and personal lives.

Developing friendships is key for anyone’s social well-being. According to a 2023 study by the American Psychological Association, people who keep strong friendships are better-equipped to deal with any obstacles in life.

But, all good things can come to an end and, sadly, friendships are no exception. People change with time and with these changes, good friendships can dissolve. Luckily, when you start a friendship there are several measures you can take to keep it going for as long as possible and when these measures are put into practice, the results are beautiful.

Keep an open mind

There are many things to consider when starting a friendship. It’s fine to gravitate towards like-minded people, but one does not need to pursue a friendship with another solely due to their similarities. Just because you both like the same books or because you enjoy attending events together does not necessarily make you bosom buddies.

Therefore, it is best to be open-minded in choosing your friends.

Even so, it is always important to choose your friends carefully, without completely changing yourself in the process. Popularity contests in school are. Someone can easily fall into the wrong crowd. But according to a 2017 article by KQED, there are two types of popularity: social status or likability. People who are popular for being likable are ultimately more popular than those who are admired for their status.

To be likable, you needn’t be all smiles and sunshine, but it is good to hold fast to your values and beliefs (they may evolve over time, but they shouldn’t be too malleable), be patient when making friends and establish an authentic, multifaceted identity (you can be the guitarist who fights for social justice and fawns over cats). When it comes to forming friendships, be yourself and nobody else.

Accept that friendships can fade

Not all friendships are permanent. Perhaps you’ve evolved and quietly drifted apart. Maybe you’ve moved to different parts of the world and have simply lost touch. And unfortunately, you could have a particularly nasty disagreement and no longer want anything to do with each other. It can be sad to see a good interpersonal relationship cease.

If you’re lucky, you can reconnect and salvage the friendship. If you cannot work out these logistics, it is likely a sign this friendship is beyond repair – and it’s not necessarily anybody’s fault. If you can no longer be friends, it’s best to accept it, but make sure the good memories don’t sour.

Value new connections, but don’t disregard existing ones

If you are still compatible with your existing friends, keep in touch with them. With the rise of social media, friends who don’t live close to each other can stay in touch as much as they want to.

These friends are some of the people you’ve known for the longest. Chances are, you’ve dealt with bullies in your first few years of school. You’ve been there for each other during the embarrassing moments of your teens. You transitioned into adulthood, and you enjoyed your time together after you graduated from school. If you are still loyal to each other, you should certainly keep it going.

Good friendships are give-and-take

Often in life, you will look to your friends for help and support. A good friend will listen to you, offer advice or assistance when you need it, give you your due credit, and set you straight should you step out of line. Just as you would want your friends to support you and respect your boundaries, it is your duty to do the same.

How would you feel if someone you thought you could trust betrayed you – either by taking credit for something you did, by sharing your personal issues with others, or by bailing on you every time you should need a favor?

Would it be right for you to repeatedly seek your friends’ help, but balk if they sought your assistance?

In a well-oiled friendship, friends willingly help and include each other, through good times and bad, returning favors but not pushing for gratitude. Regardless of your differences, true friends will support you, even if it means occasionally disagreeing with you. They will make sacrifices when the going gets tough, but they will not sacrifice their character or their boundaries. To be a good friend, it is up to you to do the same.

Friendships are not only nice, but essential. It takes work, time and effort to maintain a friendship, but there are clear ways to do so.

Be there for your friends when they need you to, but don’t stretch yourself too thin. Prioritize your new and existing friends equally, but if you find that you can’t maintain your friendship with someone, it may be time to let it go.

A friendship that can stand the test of time, that can withstand challenges, is a very special thing indeed.


By Alex Arlander | ENC News


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